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Jubilee Singer?

Earlier this month, the subject of one of my Wordless Wednesdays was my Great Grandaunt, Ellen Lorrelle Brown.  Ellen was born in Lacassas, TN.  She was the daughter of the Hillery and Bettie Brown; one of fifth with two sisters and two brothers.

Ellen at 17Ellen attended Fisk University in Nashville, TN and (according to family lore) was one of the Fisk Jubilee Singers in or about 1910.

The original Jubilee Singers introduced ‘slave songs’ to the world in 1871 and were instrumental in preserving this unique American musical tradition known today as Negro spirituals.

They broke racial barriers in the US and abroad in the late 19th century and entertained Kings and Queens in Europe. At the same time, they raised money in support of their beloved school.

For music historians and family historians alike, this would be a terrific connection to the past….if sourced.  My problem is, so far, I can’t find a source to confirm or deny the story.  Now, to be fair, I haven’t gone beyond internet and ancestry.com searches.  I’m hoping some corresponence with the modern version of the group will yield some confirmation.  If it does, you’ll see it here first.


3 Responses

  1. Very interesting story about your Great Grandaunt who may have been a Jubilee Singer around 1910. Though not associated with Fisk, I have been very fortunate enough to have identified two photographs of my ancestor, with collaborating documents, via archival records at two other Institutes. I notice this photo of the Jubilee Singers in 1909. http://contentdm.auctr.edu/cdm4/item_viewer.php?CISOROOT=%2FFUPP&CISOPTR=650&DMSCALE=100&DMWIDTH=600&DMHEIGHT=600&DMMODE=viewer&DMFULL=1&DMX=0&DMY=0&DMTEXT=&DMTHUMB=1&REC=9&DMROTATE=0&x=286&y=241

    • Wow! I love the internet! I’m no expert, but I don’t see a face in that photo that looks like my great aunt……so she wasn’t in the 1910 Jubilee Singer group or wasn’t a Jubilee Singer at all….

      • I always try to make a mental note during my research to go from the known information to the unknown. Perhaps whatever source that you have that mentions your Great Grandaunt was at Fisk and may have been with the Fisk Jubilee Singers might be where you may want to focus. I hope you will not mind my suggestions. Below the photo that I provided in the previous message, there is an e-mail address as well as a phone number. I would suggest contacting them to see if there is any further information on this photo and if by chance there are other photos at that archives around this time period that may not be online. I also would ask if they may know of another repository that I should query. I have some addition information on this topic to share with you as well.

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